Beginning Saturday, Lyons is closing its parks until further notice, town officials announced Friday afternoon.
“In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of its residents, visitors, employees and volunteers, Lyons parks facilities will be closed,” the town said in a news release.
People “will still be allowed to use the trail system and access the river, but group gatherings, picnicking, pop-ups and congregating along the river will not be permitted.”
The closings will at least generally apply to most people who would otherwise visit LaVern M. Johnson Park, Bohn Park, Black Bear Hole, Lyons Valley River Park and the river corridor throughout town, officials said.
However, the town will continue to honor shelter and camping reservations for LaVern M. Johnson Park while that facility and the other town parks are otherwise closed. Reservation holders will be required to follow social distancing and face-coverings guidelines.
Town officials said the closures are in response to the increasingly high volumes of park visitors, despite efforts to maintain a controlled capacity in those parks.
“With the state’s new mask order and the spike in regional cases, town officials are hopeful that taking this action will make an immediate impact on the spread of the virus and once again be on the path to flattening the curve,” Lyons said in its news release.
Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen said in a statement: “We’re deeply concerned with the crowding, as we continue to see very few masks and lax social distancing. With limited resources, the crowds of people have become increasingly challenging to safely manage.”
Neither Simonsen nor Lyons Mayor Nichoas Angelo could immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
“It’s not something we requested or ordered,” Boulder County Public Health spokesperson Chana Goussetis said in a Friday evening email.
Goussetis said, “We are in regular communication with stakeholders from most of the communities in Boulder County, including Lyons. We provide regular updates about case trends and concerns so each community can take additional actions if they deem them necessary. We are pleased to see that Lyons is taking the action they feel is needed to protect all of us.”
A town staff COVID-19 memo for the Town Board of Trustees for Monday night’s Town Board meeting states: “Lyons parks have been inundated by visitors, most of which are not wearing masks. Staff has been deliberating many options to try and manage the situation but feel we simply do not have the resources to enforce our current rules of social distancing and mask wearing in our local parks.
“We are putting the public and our staff at risk of infection if we allow the current practices to continue. We have exhausted our personnel and worn out our parks with this heavy usage. This is not sustainable for the remainder of the summer and fall,” staff said in its memo to the trustees.
Park patrons “are still welcome to walk through and use the trail system, but no gathering on riverbanks, picnic tables or access points will be allowed,” staff wrote board members. “We appreciate your understanding and patience while we work through this everchanging situation.”
Lyons said in its Friday news release that “in close coordination with Boulder County Public Health, the town will continue to monitor case trends and reevaluate the closures until we find a more sustainable solution for our visitors and residents.”
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